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Computer Lib/Dream Machines

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Nelson writes passionately about the need for people to understand computers deeply, more deeply than was generally promoted as computer literacy, which he considers a superficial kind of familiarity with particular hardware and software. His rallying cry "Down with Cybercrud" is against the centralization of computers such as that performed by IBM at the time, as well as Nelson writes passionately about the need for people to understand computers deeply, more deeply than was generally promoted as computer literacy, which he considers a superficial kind of familiarity with particular hardware and software. His rallying cry "Down with Cybercrud" is against the centralization of computers such as that performed by IBM at the time, as well as against what he sees as the intentional untruths that "computer people" tell to non-computer people to keep them from understanding computers. In Dream Machines, Nelson covers the flexible media potential of the computer, which was shockingly new at the time.


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Nelson writes passionately about the need for people to understand computers deeply, more deeply than was generally promoted as computer literacy, which he considers a superficial kind of familiarity with particular hardware and software. His rallying cry "Down with Cybercrud" is against the centralization of computers such as that performed by IBM at the time, as well as Nelson writes passionately about the need for people to understand computers deeply, more deeply than was generally promoted as computer literacy, which he considers a superficial kind of familiarity with particular hardware and software. His rallying cry "Down with Cybercrud" is against the centralization of computers such as that performed by IBM at the time, as well as against what he sees as the intentional untruths that "computer people" tell to non-computer people to keep them from understanding computers. In Dream Machines, Nelson covers the flexible media potential of the computer, which was shockingly new at the time.

30 review for Computer Lib/Dream Machines

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Morville

    After borrowing the title of my latest book, Intertwingled, from one of the many neologisms in this brilliant manifesto by Ted Nelson, I knew I had to own a copy. So I bought a used First Edition. It wasn't cheap. But it's filled with all sorts of fascinating ideas and inspirations. And I love the sprawling magazine layout and two-books-in-one design. Computer Lib/Dream Machines is/are a wonderful, refreshing book/s that could never be contained in a Kindle.

  2. 5 out of 5

    William

    °° There are two books here, very dated but fascinating nonetheless. The first book, Computer Lib, is about computers in general, as they were in 1972-74 or so. Computers were becoming generally known to the public, and more and more widely used in all kinds of business and academia. Flip the book upside down to the back, and you get Dream Machines - a look at the most clever computer-based and computer-related technologies of the day. This book was the first "popular °͜° There are two books here, very dated but fascinating nonetheless. The first book, Computer Lib, is about computers in general, as they were in 1972-74 or so. Computers were becoming generally known to the public, and more and more widely used in all kinds of business and academia. Flip the book upside down to the back, and you get Dream Machines - a look at the most clever computer-based and computer-related technologies of the day. This book was the first "popular book" for the general public about computers and interactive systems. Wonderful for those who want to understand the early days of computers and the coming of "personal computers"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe Raimondo

    Ted Nelson is, in my opinion, the most influential systems thinker of the past 60 years.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    About: Ted Nelson's dual-book Computer Lib/Dream Machines is a 1974 overview of the field of computing, both as practice (at the time) and as vision (much remains a dream). The book is largely forgotten now, but for decades - and surely before the resurgence of 'the cloud' in the mid-2000s - it was hailed as a masterpiece and must-read of the field. I'm glad I did, even belatedly. You should, too. I won't spoil the fun by saying this is a book started from a genuine desire to tell everyone about the (then) myst About: Ted Nelson's dual-book Computer Lib/Dream Machines is a 1974 overview of the field of computing, both as practice (at the time) and as vision (much remains a dream). The book is largely forgotten now, but for decades - and surely before the resurgence of 'the cloud' in the mid-2000s - it was hailed as a masterpiece and must-read of the field. I'm glad I did, even belatedly. You should, too. I won't spoil the fun by saying this is a book started from a genuine desire to tell everyone about the (then) mysterious emerging artifact called 'the (digital) computer'. Sure, digital computers have been around for a few decades already, but they were accessible to rhe select few and often for classified projects. But, in the early 1970s, PLATO and various Dartmouth/Minnesota projects and the Altair 8800 personal computer were around the corner or making inroads with the general public. Ted Nelson took the risk of postulating 'You can and must understand computers now!' and this book is now (good) history. The format is difficult for the starting reader, especially for readers used to the secure, uniform, standard formats of rhe 2010s bookselling industry. It's two books, where the pages of one are displayed on the back of the other's, and sometimes made to match. It's magazine-like formatting, but a creative magazine at that, with diverse column-breaking layouts, zany hand-drawn graphics (and cartoons, and comics), and font sometimes digital and sometimes hand-drawn as well. Ironically and unfortunately, the format cannot be reproduced in modern digital readers - turns out the dream of Ted Nelson of making a good display of complex information (see among others the pages on Xanadu, DM56-7) available and affordable for the general public is still open. (So are Vannevar Bush's Memex, and Doug Engelbart's System for the Augmentation of Intellect.) The Computer Lib side explains, humorously and with many side-notes, but with a clear direction and excellent presentation, the technology and business of computing. It's: + the basics (bits, bytes, electronics as much as a computer scientist needs, the full computer, running a program); + the software / early languages (BASIC, TRAC, APL, FORTRAN including Pi - "not quite 3, not quite 4", ALGOL, PL/I, COBOL, LISP, JCL); + the hardware / early systems details (IBM, DEC and its PDP and LINC lines, CDC and its 6600, Univac and its 1106/08s, Burroughs 5500 and later); + the mainframe, minicomputer, microprocessor (and the sales pitfall related to the microcomputer); + the advanced programs, operating systems, batch processing, multi-programming, and time-sharing (from McCarthy and Licklider's early success to TENEX, MULTICS, and IBM's promises on OS/VS2-2); + advanced software for a variety of domains. + there's so much more! The jokes, the insider info, the credited rumor (Datamation articles, often), the constant IBM bashing, etc. + there's even an auto-biography! (p. 70) On the opposite page, in Dream Machines, there's even an explanation about the path taken by the book itself!! (p. 126 in the 1975 edition) Plus, lots of exclamation underlines and weird page layouts!!! (makes for fantastic reading, try it out, then check out what Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog was). + the end: "By Computer Lib I mean simply: making people freer through computers." (p. 70) The Dream Machines part is too big to summarize here. You will find: + the early networks and distributed computing projects (PLATO, Dartmouth, ARPA and military projects); + hypermedia and hypertext (before the World Wide Web, there was this notion of hypertext invented by a young academic called... Ted Nelson), + AI: + IR; + computer-assisted instruction (CAI in the book, but one of the few terms where the acronym did not gain ubiquitous acceptance); + some weird concepts and ideas that are still not possible today in computing (including the seemingly easy to achive idea of a document reader that would allow opening the document at different points, with different views and annotations for each - can you Acrobat Reader or PDF viewer do this? Mine can't!) + There's Xanadu and Thinkertoy, both nice ideas that were not ultimately successful. I found it fascinating how many things he gets right, but also how many sound by now obsolete, quaint, of slideware (promises made on PowerPoint slides; of course, PowerPoint always computes.) I won't spoil the fun, because reading this is rewarding also for the comedic effect. Also, you may want to know you'll find here new cyberspace terms, worthy of a Vernor Vinge, William Gibson, or any other excellent cyberpunk writer, among which intertwingling and intertwingled to express the making and existence of interdependencies between hypertextual objects.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    Fascinating glimpse to the future in a highly readable and thoroughly entertaining book. As well as original text from 1974 there's extra text written for the 1987 version, updating on what has changed since 1974. Wish I'd read this years ago. I can easily see why it became a cult classic among the hackers (programmers) when first published.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Batsh*t insane. But in a good way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Morgane

    A delightful, manic piece of computer history, and still relevant today.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is not a book, it is an experience. This book and its author were and still are visionary. I thoroughly enjoyed the format of pictures, notes, and text in a dual book front and back. Reading the original format of the book(s) is to step into a time machine that simultaneously goes backward and forward whirling through a rush of sometimes crazy, often times brilliant enormous thoughts siphoned straight from the mind of Nelson. The ideas and concepts in this pre-PC book influenced and shaped This is not a book, it is an experience. This book and its author were and still are visionary. I thoroughly enjoyed the format of pictures, notes, and text in a dual book front and back. Reading the original format of the book(s) is to step into a time machine that simultaneously goes backward and forward whirling through a rush of sometimes crazy, often times brilliant enormous thoughts siphoned straight from the mind of Nelson. The ideas and concepts in this pre-PC book influenced and shaped computing forever. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chip

    Computer Lib/Dream Machines contains a treasure trove of information about the pre-PC world of computing which is both fascinatingly alien and eerily familiar. Nelson exclaims "You can and must understand computers NOW!", warning its readers that computers are a tool that can work for you if you understand them, and against you if you don't. It's a must read for any computer nerd.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Tough to rate these days. Only my second read-through since I grabbed the '87 revision when it was new on the shelf. Mostly of historical interest, but still some really cool stuff to think about. There's a PDF scan of the original 1974 edition out there, but I haven't found the later one and the cheapest copy is $80 on Amazon!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ed Selkow

    I stumbled across Computer Lib when I would hunt for alternative zines. I must have read it 5 times because I immediately realized what a treasure this book is. This is one of my treasures.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dhiren

    Presages the advent of the World Wide Web.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Seth Wagoner

    For it's time, this was absolutely incredible. I imagine the first edition is now worth a tidy some of cash if you're lucky enough to have one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kartik Singhal

    Mostly skimmed, quite dated. Must have been an interesting read in the decade it was published.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chip

    Started me on the path. Humanist vision of computers and their potential. Bridged the gap from Vannevar Bush to modern computing. Taught me to love things I hadn't met yet.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep

    hey book

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gary Bennett

    This is the book that really started the microcomputer revolution; the ideas Ted Nelson presents can be considered as precursors of the internet as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Enrico

    Ted Nelson invented the term 'hypertext', and we still do not have a system as good as Xanadu. Probably we never will.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jack Zhao

    Don't feel it's relevant.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dev

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nima

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Дејан Доновски Шпанац

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andreas Harth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Trinidad

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aj

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jay

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hector

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anton Angelo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Wolf

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